Mayor Addresses Response To Semi-Bus Crash

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer is proud of the way the community came together when a semi hit an Illinois school bus at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Center Street in Warsaw on Saturday, Nov. 12, injuring 20 people.

“(There was) a very unfortunate, horrible incident in the community last week with the bus crash, and I just wanted to, first of all, extend, again, our concerns and wishes to those that were involved from Chicago. I know there certainly were some injuries involved,” he said Friday at the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. “With that said, thankfully it could have been a lot worse and it wasn’t and (I) certainly attribute that to the response from not only our police department that was first on the scene, but shortly followed by the Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Department and their ability to get set up.”

Thallemer said it was his understanding, based on everyone he talked to, that every group did their job.

“I know the ambulance service had some assist from other agencies. I talked with a hospital administrator, I talked with our guys. As far as taking care of what could have been a disasterous situation, it’s bad enough, but I’m proud of the way our community responded. Again, with our city services – police and fire, street department and everybody else that was involved – I’m appreciative that they were ready and knew what to do,” Thallemer said.

With everything that went on that night – lots of traffic, concern, injuries, a crime scene, parents coming into the community to be reunited with their kids – Thallemer said it was a very difficult evening “and I’m proud of the way we handled it.”

At 8:06 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, a  2006 Freightline Tractor Tailer, driven by Victor Santos, 58, Brooklyn, N.Y., collided with a 2008 International school bus carrying a hockey team from Saint Ignatius College Prep out of Chicago, causing the bus to overturn. Three of the students injured suffered very serious injuries but all were in stable condition by the following day.

Santos, whose blood alcohol content was 0.13%, is facing four counts of causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle, Level 5 felonies; and 22 counts of criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon, Level 6 felonies. Additional charges or enhancements could follow. His bond in the case was set at $75,000 surety plus $2,500 cash.

Also at the Board of Works meeting Friday, Thallemer told everyone of the upcoming first public listening meeting on U.S. 30 by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

It will be held Dec. 6 at Lincoln Elementary School between 5 and 7 p.m. A presentation will be made at 6 p.m.